Does it matter who the artist is if you love a painting, surely it shouldn’t? I bought two paintings twenty years ago from a second hand market stall, I got them both for £25, bargain. But being the curious creature I am with the internet came the chance to research them and try to find the artist. The first had a dodgy signature, hard to make out but was done in a French impressionist/Monet-ish style, research uncovered it was the work of a group of artists working under a banner name to mass produce the paintings for mass market sale, I didn’t care I like it. The second was clearly marked Robert Cox, my initial attempts found nothing then I would find the odd painting on Ebay or listed as for sale with an auction house but still nothing. Then I came across a few posts like this one…
I found several paintings by this artist at a local thrift shop. I also found the biography below on several sites. I think this may be some sort of a scam or perhaps similar to the many “Burnett” paintings from Mexico. All of the paintings in the local shop bore the stamp of “Creative Interiors” and “Hecho en Mexico”. I could not find Robert Cox with the birth and death dates given below in either the Social Security Death Index or in the California Death Index. I could find no mention of a company called “Mayhew Peakes”. There is a Katherine Gibbs School, but it appears to be a 2 year college. The Art Workers Coalition was founded in New York City in 1969, seven years after Cox supposedly moved to California, and only existed until 1971. The only mention I can find for the Brown Hammerson Medal of Honour (or Honor) is in this biography.
“Born on July 14th, 1934 in Mt Holly, New Jersey, he studied at the Katharine Gibbs School of Art from 1953 until 1956 before joining Mayhew Peakes Inc. as a graphic designer. Dissatisfied with his progress he resigned in 1962 and moved to California where he married Marjorie in 1966. The new Californian environment gave him unrestricted floral subjects for his painting and he painted furiously to make up for the lost time he felt he had spent in Philadelphia. It was important to him that art was available to the general public. He appreciated that most people could not afford thousands of Dollars for original works and, often to his own financial detriment, he strived to keep his sale prices low.
Although generally shy and unassuming, he was a founder member of the Art Workers Coalition and very active in promoting the rights of artists. He was awarded the Brown Hammerson Medal of Honour for services to art in 1986.
One of the most prolific painters of the 1970s and 1980s, Robert Cox established a huge reputation in the United States for his almost neo-Victorian style and his early adoption of the pallet knife in creating stylised flowers. His work is represented in many American museums, galleries and private collections as well as having been frequently exported to Europe and Australia and has been auctioned at Christies, Bonhams and Cheffins.
Robert Cox died on June 18th, 2001 in Escondido, California after a long illness. His wife, Marjorie, and his daughters, Kate and Ginny, survived him.”
I found this summary on Robert Cox’s bio here, and I have to say I pretty much agree with his assessment. The question is does it matter?
So this first painting I found on Ebay just for comparison purposes ‘Pink Roses in a Brown Vase’ the paintings are all floral arrangements and one could take that as evidence of the ‘scam’ in itself, after all surely a painter would paint other things not just sit day after day painting the same things, secondly the sheer volume of paintings out there suggests one man could not be responsible for them all.
I found around fifty just on the UK Ebay site ranging in price from £45 to £300 buy it now, the frames range from plain brown to highly ornate gold frames, personally I think mine had been in a more ornate frame and that the frame was taken to be used for something else and it was re-framed in a plain one just because the framing is not done very well and is not as well centred as many others seem to be. This is my painting…
The fact is it does not matter if a painting or a book is created for mass enjoyment rather than for a small group of academics to enjoy, what matter is that the individual finds pleasure in it, when I saw it along with the other painting at the second hand market I was not thinking I wonder what this would be worth, I saw it and thought I want that, I love it. Of course I worry a group of what could be incredibly talented painters are locked in a room somewhere being forced to paint vases of flowers from morning till night but is it any different to those who work in ceramic factories hand painting designs over and over again, maybe doing this during the day covers the bills so they can paint stunning sunsets for their own pleasure or under their own name.
The going rate for both the paintings I bought for £25 for the pair is £200 based on the size and subject/colour would I ever sell them nope not if you offered me double that amount, they were bought for the pleasure looking at them gives me and an authors name does not change that.